VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II promised to draw “opportune operative indications” from the proposals offered by the cardinals´ consistory, to address the Church´s great challenges.
The Pontiff made his promise at today´s solemn closure of the sixth extraordinary consistory of his pontificate. Over three days, 155 cardinals spoke spontaneously about the situation and needs of the Church.
The proposals were summarized Wednesday afternoon, in the Pope´s presence, by Mexican Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñíguez, archbishop of Guadalajara. They included the addresses of 60 cardinals, as well as the conclusions of the various linguistic working groups.
The Pope and cardinals concelebrated a solemn Mass on the feast of the Ascension in St. Peter´s Basilica to mark the close of the consistory. During his homily the Pope said: “Today the Church must face enormous challenges, which test the confidence and enthusiasm of those who proclaim her message.”
It “is not just [a question] of quantitative problems, due to the fact that Christians represent a minority, while the process of secularization continues to erode the Christian tradition even in countries of early evangelization,” the Pope warned.
The problems are “even more grave,” and “stem from a general change of the cultural horizon, dominated by the primacy of experimental sciences inspired by the criteria of scientific epistemology,” the Holy Father explained.
He continued: “Even when it shows itself to be sensitive to the religious dimension, more than that, seems to rediscover it, the modern world at most accepts the image of God the Creator, but finds it difficult to accept the ´scandalum crucis,´ the scandal of a God who enters history out of love, becomes man, dies and resurrects for us.”
Also, globalization poses “ulterior problems” for evangelization, John Paul II added.
Although this new phenomenon “offers the advantage of bringing peoples and cultures closer together, making innumerable messages more accessible to every one,” he said, “it does not facilitate discernment and a mature synthesis, fostering a relativist attitude, which makes it more difficult to accept Christ as the way, truth and life.”
These challenges find their clearest expression in the “moral questions,” the Holy Father said. “Never before has humanity been challenged by such formidable problems, which cause it to doubt its own end, especially in the great fields of bioethics, as well as those of social justice, the institution of the family, and conjugal life.”
It was precisely to address these problems that the Holy Father convoked this consistory. The cardinals responded with a “profound analysis” and offered concrete “solutions,” he said. Next October´s synod of bishop will also address of the same topics.
The Pope thanked the cardinals for their contributions and promised “to draw operative indications from them, so that the pastoral and evangelizing action of the whole Church will grow in missionary tension, fully aware of today´s challenges.”